VALLEY VIEW - Pull, yells the shooter. A moment later the gun bellows and a white cloud of smoke belches from the barrel. The peanut gallery erupts in yet another round of laughter at the shooter's expense. "Smokin' Joe" claimed another unsuspecting victim. It became his signature prank but certainly not the only shenanigans he was responsible for. You see, Joe would craft his special shotgun load in the secrecy of his workshop by substituting black powder for the more conventional smokeless variety, then with cunning skill he would slip the mutant shell into the shell bag of some hapless shooter. Unaware of the unwelcome addition to his ammo supply, the shooter would chamber the surrogate shell and the resulting discharge produced a horizontal mushroom cloud of putrid Sulphur smoke, much to the delight of all the onlookers, if not the shooter.
ELIZABETHVILLE - Left-handed batter Landon Mace leaned into his swing and launched a towering fly ball to right-center field.
He and the rest of his nine Upper Dauphin County teammates then had to wait for gravity to take effect.
"No, I thought it was going to hit the fence," Mace said.
But the ball never touched it and the celebration began.
Mace's three-run home run with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Upper Dauphin County to a 13-10 victory over Ashland on July 15 in the District 24 Little League 9-10-year-old Tournament championship game.
CRESSONA - What a difference a year makes.
In 2014, Cressona's 9-10-year-old team managed just one win in the District 24 Little League Tournament.
Twelve months later, many of those same boys led Cressona to the top with a 5-4 win over Upper Dauphin County in the District 24 Little League 10-11-year-old championship game on July 18.
Cressona starter Branson Devitt threw five strong innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out five.
MANDATA - Line Mountain and Bloomsburg have been named co-champions of the Susquehanna Valley American Legion League after each team won playoff brackets.
Line Mountain defeated Danville 6-1 Monday, July 13 to finish the winners' bracket unbeaten, and Bloomsburg claimed the losers' bracket with a 12-2 win over Sunbury-Norry.
Originally, Bloomsburg was to play at Line Mountain July 14 in the double elimination tournament, but since both teams qualified for the upcoming Region 5 tournament, it was decided not to play the games and call the teams co-champions. Bloomsburg was assured of a berth in the region tournament as the host team, and Line Mountain is the automatic qualifier from the league.
FREEMANSBURG - Zach Boltz joked with one of the trainers after he fouled a ball off his ankle during the seventh inning Monday, July 20 at the American Legion Region 2 Tournament.
The Pine Grove slugger walked off the sting for a minute before the trainer told him to hit a home run so he could simply jog around the bases.
Sound advice - and Boltz took it.
Two pitches later, he launched a 320-foot, solo blast over the left field fence, giving Pine Grove much needed insurance in an 8-6 victory over Perkiomen to keep the Grovers alive in the double-elimination tournament.